Sunday, 2 August 2009

291. Frédéric Chopin - Sonata no.2 in B flat minor, "Funeral March" (1839)


Title: Rachmaninoff plays Chopin
Performer: Sergei Rachmaninoff
Year: 1930
Length: 18 minutes


I usually have problems with very old recordings. The sound is not usually the best quality and some of the performances leave much to be desired. This is, however an exception. Rachmaninoff, as much as I have problems with him as a composer, was a great pianist.

It is also interesting to be able to get a performance which is less than a century distant from Chopin, it seems to bring some authenticity to the thing. The sound is not, of course the best, but in a piano piece this is actually quite charming, so it ends up not being a major problem.

The piece itself is a well known one, particularly the funeral march of the third movement, a track that everyone can sing along to... even if it is quite disturbing and is immediately associated with death. The rest of the sonata, for those who don't know it can be a revelation. The whole thing is quite strange and new, Chopin represents emotions beautifully even when they are terror.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

While the term "funeral march" is perhaps a fitting description of the 3rd movement, complete with the Lento interlude in D flat major, "Chopin's Funeral March" is used commonly to describe only the funeral march proper (in B flat minor). The "funeral march" has become well known in popular culture. It was also used at the state funerals of John F. Kennedy and those of Soviet leaders, including Leonid Brezhnev. It was transcribed for full orchestra by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar in 1933 and its first performance was at his own memorial concert the next year. It was played at the graveside during Chopin's own burial at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Rachmaninoff plays the Funeral March:

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